Condo associations can benefit enormously from the leadership and expertise of a property management company.
Selecting a property management company that meets the needs of your building is one of the first challenges that face a new associations and one of the responsibilities of the building trustees. Below are a few things to keep in mind as you go through this process.
Focusing your search
Recommendations from friends, neighbors and co-workers are a good way to start building a list of property management companies to contact. Are there properties in your neighborhood that you have noticed are particularly well managed? If so, find out who manages these properties. Check local business listings and look for management companies in your area. Preliminary research on the web can help give you a rough sense of each company. In addition, you may also be able to find on-line reviews.
Interviewing management companies
This is a critical step and one that should be taken with the maximum number of trustees present. A few broad areas of concern to keep in mind:
· Make sure that you have your list of the services and projects that you building requires and address these directly in the interview. The answers to these concerns will not only help ensure that you select a company that can effectively manage the needs of your building but will also give you insight into how each company solves problems.
· Ask specific questions about the company’s organization. For example, how many properties does a typical manger handle? How many new buildings does the company add in a given month? For both of these questions, more may not be better.
· Learn about the company’s management style. How they communicate with trustees and how often? Regarding routine matters? Regarding building financials? Ask how many of their clients have decided to move on to other companies and why. You may not get a straight answer but it is worth asking.
· Make sure that you have a very clear understanding of how you will be billed and what you will be billed for. For example, do they take a cut for managing major building projects? How is that fee determined?
· Does the personality of the company and manager fit well with the personality of the building and trustees? This can make all the difference!
If you have a positive interview ask for references and contact as many of the references provided as possible. You should speak with at least three trustees from different buildings that work with the company you are considering. Once again ask specific questions. Find out what problems each building has had and how the management company has responded. What problems has the management company been able to resolve? What problems remain unresolved? Is the management company responsive? How long have they worked with this management company? Have they had any bad experiences? If so, how was this handled? The list of course goes on but the more information you have the better equipped you will be to make a good decision.
Hiring a management company
The management company you hire will have a boilerplate contract for you to sign. Review this document carefully and be prepared to negotiate. Almost everything is negotiable so think about what makes most sense for your building and will help to establish a productive working relationship.